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UPDATED: 19:14, May 08, 2004
Bangladeshi opposition calls countrywide hartal to protest killing of MP
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The main opposition in Bangladesh Awami League (AL) Friday called a countrywide dawn-to-dusk hartal on Sunday to protest the killing of an AL lawmaker.

According to the Daily Star on Saturday, the decision was made Friday at an emergency meeting of the AL after the AL member of parliament (MP) Ahsanullah Master was gunned down by a gang of unknown assailants in Tongi, an industrial town 20 kilometers north of capital Dhaka.

Up to 10 armed gunmen shot the 54-year-old MP from behind the dais when he was at a party conference in a high school of his home town Tongi, and the MP succumbed to his injuries later in thehospital. Three people in the crowd were also killed in the shooting, while at least five others were critically injured.

The killing sparkled a series of violent incidents, as hundredsof agitated demonstrators smashed some passing vehicles, torched carriages of a train, uprooted rail tracks, set fire to a cinema hall, vandalized shops amid conflicts with police in Tongi.

Al General Secretary Abudul Jalil Friday in a statement blamed the government for the assassination and reiterated AL's bid to oust the ruling four-party-alliance.

It was also decided at the meeting that the AL will bring out mourning processions across the country on May 10 besides Sunday'shartal.

The government, however, in response described the incident as an outcome of intra-party conflicts of the AL.

A statement issued by the Home Ministry Friday night pointed out the AL resorted to massive violence only to divert the incident caused by their internal conflict to another course.

The government pledge to put the situation under control with an iron hand, as the president and prime minister both consoled death of Ahsanullah Master.

Other political parties including Bangladesh Communist Party, the left leaning 11-party alliance and Jatiya Party in separate statements all condemned the brutal murder and demanded punishmentto the killers.

The killing happened one week after the AL failed to meet theirultimatum of April 30 to oust the government for mid-term poll, and is expected to sparkle a new round of anti-government movementfrom the opposition.

The incident also came a day before a three-day annual meeting of Bangladesh Development Forum, during which the international donors is supposed to evaluate the development situation in Bangladesh including the recent law and order downslide in the country.

Source: Xinhua

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